East Texas school districts prepare for more state budget cuts

Huntington I.S.D. Superintendent Eric Wright
Huntington I.S.D. Superintendent Eric Wright

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Texas is facing a possible 18 billion dollar shortfall, and we're learning the cost may be far greater.  At stake, your child's education, the latest area targeted for cuts.

Ask an Angelina County superintendent how they'll handle more budget cuts, and they'll probably say they're used to it.

"The ones in Angelina County such as Huntington, Zavalla, Central, Diboll and Lufkin - we're all well below the average per capita in the state of Texas," said Eric Wright, Huntington I.S.D. Superintendent.

Right now, every district in the county is funded less per student than the state average... in some cases thousands less.

If lawmakers decide to slash more money from schools, Wright says it should be done fairly.

"Look at those that are super-funded versus those that are under-funded and take those cuts away from those that already have more to begin with," said Wright.

There is talk that basic education programs may be spared, but Zavalla I.S.D. Superintendent David Flowers still has concerns.

"But it is limiting grants and cutting other programs; textbooks, things that are extremely important to the school districts," said David Flowers, Zavalla I.S.D.

That could mean seventh grade Texas history teacher Adrian Neal will have to keep using outdated textbooks.

"There are no references to September 11th or any of the events of the last decade," said Neal.

East Texas teachers say they'll try to educate their students no matter what their funding is, but there are things they wish they could do to enhance the classroom experience.

Right now, field trips to the state capital in Austin are out.  So are laptops in every classroom.  At Huntington Middle School, Neal says shared laptops have to be requested weeks in advance.

"We live in a technological world and we feel like we have to prepare them to be not only good citizens, but also employable," said Neal.

For now, the county's school districts will have to do their best to maintain the education they're providing... but leaders say they can't keep it up forever.

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